What is Kangaroo Care?
Kangaroo Care (sometimes called skin-to-skin) is a special way for you to hold your baby. The name comes from the Kangaroo, which holds its baby in its pouch. The NICU
can sometimes make you feel isolated from your baby and Kangaroo Care may help with that feeling. This is a special time for you to share with your baby, and we look forward to supporting you with your Kangaroo Care sessions. Many
NICUs practice Kangaroo Care, and research has shown that Kangaroo Care may benefit your baby in many ways.
How can Kangaroo Care help my baby? Research has shown that your baby can benefit from Kangaroo Care:
- Premature babies gain weight faster.
- Babies cry less and sleep better.
- Babies’ heart rates, breathing patterns, and temperatures are more stable.
- Babies feed earlier and more successfully.
- Kangaroo Care may shorten your baby’s hospital stay.
- Kangaroo Care may decrease your baby’s risk of severe infection.
- Kangaroo Care may improve your baby’s brain development.
Research has shown that parents can benefit from Kangaroo Care:
- Kangaroo Care can increase a mother’s milk supply.
- Kangaroo Care increases success and duration of breastfeeding.
- Kangaroo Care reduces maternal depression and anxiety.
- Kangaroo Care helps with parent/infant bonding. Kangaroo Care allows you to feel more confident that you are helping your baby get better sooner.
How do I start Kangaroo Care?
Most NICU babies can participate in Kangaroo Care, although there are a few exceptions. Your baby’s medical team will help you decide when your baby can begin Kangaroo Care. Both mothers and fathers can do Kangaroo Care. You can schedule a time with your baby’s nurse to do Kangaroo Care with your baby every day.
How is Kangaroo Care Done?
- Decide on a time that works well for you, your baby, and his or her nurse.
- Remember that preterm babies can be very sensitive to smells, so it is important to have clean skin and hair, and avoid the use of perfumes or scented lotions.
- Please do not smoke before coming to do Kangaroo care. If you cannot avoid smoking, please change your clothes and brush your teeth before entering your baby’s room.
- You will need to hold your baby for at least an hour to provide all the benefits of Kangaroo care, so it is best to take care of any bathroom break before you start.
- You may also want to schedule Kangaroo Care around pumping times.
- Wear a shirt that opens in the front.
- Mom, it may be best for you to remove your bra, so your baby can lay directly on your chest.
- Please do not use your cell phone while holding your baby (this is important for infection control reasons). You may turn it off, or leave it on vibrate in the family area of the room to allow undistracted time with your baby.
- Your nurse or another visitor may take photos during Kangaroo Care. Please arrange that prior to holding.
- Two NICU staff members will help you get ready to hold your baby.
- Your baby’s nurse will secure any IV lines to your baby’s diaper.
- Your baby will be placed on his/her side before Kangaroo Care holding.
- The nurse will determine if the transfer will be a parent-assisted or staff-assisted transfer.
- You may feel nervous or scared when first starting Kangaroo Care. This is very common, and we are here to help and support you and your baby throughout this process. You will feel more at ease every time you hold your baby.
How will my baby react to Kangaroo Care?
Most babies love this special “cuddle time” with you. It may take your baby a few minutes to settle in and be comfortable. Your baby’s nurse will continue to monitor your baby throughout this time. Once settled, most babies will fall asleep. Although you may get very comfortable too, it’s important for you to stay awake. You should plan on holding your baby at least one hour.
What if my baby doesn’t tolerate Kangaroo Care?
- Sometimes your baby may not be ready for Kangaroo Care and may show us this by dropping his/her heart rate, decreasing his/her pulse ox, or requiring more oxygen. There’s nothing you did to cause this.
- If your baby doesn’t tolerate being held, Kangaroo Care may be Please don’t be discouraged! We can try Kangaroo Care another day.
For Staff-Assisted Transfer (when your baby is intubated):
- Accomplished by the same process as Parent-Assisted Transfer, except another staff member acts as “standing parent” during the transfer.
- You will be seated in a chair close to the ventilator.
- The nurse will place your infant on your chest.
- The RN or RT will secure the vent tubing by taping the tubing to your shirt or gown.
- The nurse will close your shirt around the baby and the outer blanket.
- Don’t be scared if your baby’s alarms go off. The alarms may frequently go off when your baby is temporarily disconnected. Your nurse and other NICU staff members are right there to help you.
- Once you are comfortable in your chair, your nurse will remain at or near the infant’s bedside for the time you hold your But don’t be afraid, we will always be nearby, should your baby or you need us.
- We know you will love holding your baby, and you will want to do it again. It is best to talk with your baby’s nurse and schedule a time during the day to do Kangaroo Care.
- Don’t forget Dad! We want him on the schedule too! It is better for Mom and Dad to rotate days to do Kangaroo Care. We recommend one person hold per session to allow baby to rest for a longer period of time.
- Grandparents: we haven’t forgotten about you! We like to give Mom/Dad the first chance to begin Kangaroo Care, but we certainly encourage your involvement also. If your baby is tolerating regular sessions of Kangaroo Care, please have Mom or Dad ask your baby’s nurse about scheduling a time for you to hold the baby.
For Parent-Assisted Transfer (when you can get in & out of a chair and your baby is not intubated):
- Place your forearm under the blanket underneath your With your other hand, cup your baby’s head. Lean over the isolette and gently lift your baby to your chest.
- The nurse will assist you into a seated position with the baby remaining in place.
- The nurse will close your shirt or gown around the baby and the outer blanket.
- The nurse will remain near the bedside for the duration of the session.
- Make sure you have the call light within reach.
- To transfer the infant back to bed, the transfer procedure is simply reversed.